Parish News : August 2021


It has been a joy to watch Wimbledon this year, especially since last year had to be cancelled, and even more so because Andy Murray was back (for a little while)! Tennis is fascinating to watch, not only the jaw-dropping moments when the players manage to place the ball in the farthest corner of the court, even though it’s flying at over 100 mph; but also the drama and tension you get with the one-to-one tussle between great stars. And whole matches can come down to one or two crucial points, moments when it could all go one way or the other. At those moments, it comes down to so much more than the physical ability and talent of the player: mental attitude comes into play. It’s all about confidence; do they believe they can win this match?

Confidence featured large in my thinking during my sabbatical. How confident are we in sharing what we believe with others? Some of my time I have read about some very famous Christians (like Charles Spurgeon or Billy Graham) who have been well known for effectively sharing their faith. But I have also reflected on other less famous people I have met in various churches over the years. God chooses to use whoever he chooses – whether a world-famous preacher speaking to heads of state, or a young child speaking to her friends in the school playground.

I believe that God provides us with the confidence that’s needed, if we will trust him to. There’s a verse which has become important for me in all of this: from Paul’s second letter to Timothy chapter 1 vv6-7 - I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (NLT)

Fear and timidity – Timothy was an expert in that - he was young, in poor health, perhaps very shy – all leading to him being tremendously unconfident. But Paul, writing from his second lockdown in prison, tells Timothy ‘God has given you the necessary gifts, of power, love and self-discipline’. And to each of us who feels unconfident – Paul’s words speak to us too. If you are in Christ, God has given you a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. Have confidence!

For Christians, God gives us the confidence we need, which we might otherwise lack. Where our natural inclination might be to take a back seat, to avoid speaking up, to avoid imposing our ideas on others, the Holy Spirit in us gives boldness to speak for God; bringing strength where there was weakness, that is the sort of power Paul means.

And the Holy Spirit gives love – self-giving, caring about the other person, not concerned about myself or my own reputation, but instead for their salvation. And the self-control is about adopting a godly order of priorities, placing self after others - God first, others second, self third.

Paul urges us to fan into flames this gift of the Holy Spirit which brings us power, love and self control. Allow the Holy Spirit to fan into flames the gift God has given you! Have confidence!

Tina Upton


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